In yet another press conference on Friday, President Barack Obama again reiterated his call for a “big deal” which entail raising the debt ceiling while at the same time tackling America’s huge deficit and debt problems. Once more he repeated that there must be shared sacrifice and a balance approach to resolving these issues.
Although Republican and Democratic leaders have been meeting over the past several weeks to hammer out a deal, both sides remain even further apart today. The major sticking point is Republicans’ unwillingness to agree on a package that will include revenues to come from closing corporate tax loop holes and from unnecessary tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires.
Obama told reporters that he is prepared to go against his Democratic base and make tough decisions, and Republicans should also do the same. He said that bi-partisan groups also understand the need for revenues and that 80% of the American people supported a balanced approach.
“My hope is that they (Republicans) are listening to the American people and not just lobbyists,” Obama stated. “This is not just an understanding on Democrats’ part, but the majority of Republican voters believe there should be a balanced approach.”
Asked if he was prepared to make changes to Medicare and raise the retirement age for Social Security eligibility, Obama responded that he is “ready to take some tough decisions.” Obama said he was not willing to restructure entitlement programs, but that modest modifications can be undertaken to increase their certainty and reliability.
Obama said that he had not yet seen a serious plan from the Republican side, but should one be presented, he is ready to move ahead.
“I have not seen a credible plan that would allow you to get to $2.4 trillion without hurting ordinary folks,” Obama said. “And the notion we will do this without asking anything from millionaires and billionaires, that’s not a serious plan to me.”
Commenting specifically on Republican Minority Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan that will raise the debt ceiling, with spending cuts of $1 trillion and no tax increases, Obama said that it “doesn’t have all the answers.”
With a failure on Thursday to reach a deal, Obama has given congressional leaders 24-48 hours to come up with a plan to raise the debt ceiling, while beginning to solve the underlying problem of America’s debt and deficit.
Congress has until August 2, to raise the debt ceiling failing which the United States could default on its obligations.